The Rhode Island House voted on Tuesday to provide paid time off to care for a new child or sick family member, a bill activists believe will be signed by Gov. Lincoln Chafee and make Rhode Island the third state to provide paid family leave.
The bill will expand that state’s current Temporary Disability Insurance, or TDI, program, which currently only covers paid time off for a worker who is ill or injured.
Temporary Caregiver Insurance, or TCI, will allow workers to pay into the program using payroll deduction beginning in January 2014. Workers will first be allowed four weeks of paid leave followed by six weeks in 2015 and eight weeks in 2016.
While the TDI program currently requires a minimum payment of $72 a week, the TCI program would only require a minimum payment of 83 cents per week for someone making $43,000.
While opponents of the bill argued the program would hurt small businesses, a coalition of small business owners even pushed for the bill’s passage.
Research done by California and New Jersey both led to positive reports for businesses that provided paid family leave with California finding a savings of $89 million.
The success of these three states is a small step forward in the fight for paid family leave, especially in the United States where only 17 percent of public sector workers receive paid maternity leave and only 11 percent in the private sector receive it.